A critical report, commissioned by the the University of Victoria, gathering feedback on the school’s public consultation processes was released Thursday, in light of the school’s inability to quell community concerns with regards to a parkade it plans to build on campus.
The school hopes to use the feedback and recommendations outlined in consultant H.B. Lanarc’s report, Better Neighbours: A plan for improved CARSA project consultation efforts by UVic, to better inform Saanich residents about their plans.
“This provides us with a roadmap to be able to move forward with enhanced consultation for the CARSA project,” said Gayle Gorrill, UVic’s vice-president of finance and operations.
CARSA, the Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities, is a 17,685 square-metre complex, including a 2,100-seat gym, a four-court field house, an elevated running track and a climbing centre. Attached to it, as proposed, is a seven-level, 503-stall parkade.
It went before Saanich council twice in 2011 seeking height and parking variance approvals, and was twice rejected. Both times, councillors asked that UVic consult further with neighbours.
The hired consultant interviewed 22 stakeholders, and found that support for the athletics facility was overwhelmingly positive. The vast majority of concerns are with regards to the parkade and the impacts it will have on the community.
“Current UVic structures and processes for ensuring effective community and stakeholder consultation on large development projects are not robust enough,” the report reads. “UVic is perceived to have taken a ‘Design, Announce, Defend’ approach with CARSA, providing little room for meaningful input or project modifications to respond to concerns.”
Gorrill acknowledges that, in hindsight, the public consultation done in 2010 was insufficient.
“I would say by basis of all of this, we didn’t do enough.”
The report recommends UVic follow a five-step timeline to best improve the project, with input from the community.
“We’ll first provide as much information out to he community, then solicit information back and have that dialogue, then determine where we go,” Gorrill said.
Those interested in the project will have access to a more complete overview of CARSA, which UVic is currently working on, covering such topics as: why it is sited where it is?; how was design developed?; and what were the trade-offs that were considered through the design?
By mid-February, the university hopes to be able to start hosting information sessions, gathering input on the design and issues. By late April, the school aims to have a revised plan out to the community, so it can go before council again in the summer.
“We’re really keen to get going with all these steps,” Gorrill said.
To read the full report, visit uvic.ca/resources/carsa.php
Highlights from the CARSA report:
• UVic should immediately develop a more complete overview of the project.
• UVic should undertake a review of community-identified issues (ie. relocating parking structure; lowering height of parkade and/or burying part of it).
• UVic should develop a more robust communications protocol for CARSA consultation.
• UVic should explain major development issues and objectives currently
in play at the university, the process used for moving those ahead, and how this relates to future campus planning and development efforts.